What are your rights as a tenant?

By Viktor Chong

The conflict between co-existing tenants isn’t something new. What happens when a tenant wants to evict another tenant for lousy living habits? Can we decorate the rented property? What are the rights and obligations of people who rent residential properties?

It is always wise to know the legalities involved in your tenancy agreement

It is always wise to know the legalities involved in your tenancy agreement

To put your enquiries to rest, Messrs Eunice Tan & Partners founder Eunice Tan Mui Lee provides her opinion on some of the basic legalities.

  1. What are the legal differences between renting alone and sharing the rent with another person or more?

There is no difference if there is no tenancy agreement. If there is a tenancy agreement signed between the landlord and the tenant(s), it shall fall under the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement.

For the sharing of rent situation, if two tenants sign the tenancy agreement, both tenants will be bound by it, provided that the primary agreement allows sub-let arrangements. If this is not the case, the tenancy agreement wouldn’t be legal in the first place.

However, if there is only one tenant who signs the tenancy agreement, only that party (main-tenant) can sue or be sued by the landlord in the event of any breach of terms and conditions of the legal sub-tenancy agreement.

  1. Can a group of renters who live in the same house with you evict you? Is it legal for them to do so?

Whether a group of renters who live in the same house as you can evict you or not depends on whether there is any contractual relationship between the related parties. If the original tenancy agreement spells out that it is legal to sublet to another tenant(s) and there is an agreement signed between the tenant and the sub-tenant, then the tenant has the constitutional right to evict the sub-tenant. Other than that, only the landlord has the right to pursue the eviction order.

  1. What are the differences between renting out at a landed or high rise property?

Legally speaking, there are not many differences between renting out a landed or high rise property as they fall into the same category of tenancy, i.e. renting the property for less than three years. However, for a high rise property, the tenant shall be bound by the housing rules of the joint management body/management corporation or the resident association if it is a gated and guarded property.

Other than the gated and guarded community for landed property, there are no rules and regulations to be governed by the tenant if they rent a landed estate.

  1. What kind of decoration and modification that you can do to the rented property in the legal sense?

The tenant is entitled to do simple decorations and modifications which shall not affect the structure of the building. However, it is advisable that the tenant shall not do any significant decorations or changes. It is a standard clause in the tenancy agreement that the tenant shall return the property in the “as is where is” basis i.e. for either a vacant possession or possession with the listed fittings and fixtures.

If you rent a commercial property for commercial use, it will be different from the tenancy agreement which shall include the renovation deposit and restoration deposit to restore the property to its original state.

To Read More: Ask Me Anything: Dealing with rebellious tenants

To Read More: Ask Me Anything: Dealing with rebellious tenants- Part 2

To Read More: How to legally deal with a tenant when they do not pay up

To Read More: Ask Me Anything: Tackling tenants and landlords issues

To Read More: Tenant’s due diligence

To Read More: Tackling tenant-landlord issues and leasehold renewal cost calculation

To Read More: Ask Me Anything: Who is responsible for IWK bills, wiring and piping issues in a rented property?


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